The Venture Brothers have finally returned, kicking off its fifth season.After two and a half long benighted years of waiting and speculation, super-scientists the world over can rejoice: The Venture Brothers have finally returned, kicking off its fifth season on Adult Swim this past Sunday with an hour long premier. Co-creators Jackson Publik and Doc Hammer have crafted an episode that, in true Venture tradition, manages to tie up the loose ends from last season’s “Operation P.R.O.M.” while simultaneously leaving viewers with even more questions to mull over as the current season progresses. It’s a testament to Doc and Jackson’s skills as writers, as well as their trust in the audience, that they’re able to make an episode that’s simultaneously heavy on exposition yet still packed with the references, callbacks, and rapid fire jokes that have become the show’s stock and trade.
The premiere, dubbed “What Color is Your Cleansuit”, picks up right from where Season Four’s finale left off: Brock and Sphinx (SPHINX!) quickly take to rejoin the OSI, while Dean, after being finally, truly rejected by Triana, goes into full on angsty-teen mode, burning his learning bed and renouncing his interest in following in his father’s footsteps. Meanwhile, Dr. Venture wakes up to a mix of good news and bad news. The good news is that Venture Industries has finally been commissioned to build something; specifically, a shield for J.J.’s Gargantua Two space station. The bad news is that Doc accepted the job over a year ago and promptly forgot about it, and finds himself with only three months to build a working high tech ionic shield. Without a workforce, equipment, or funding, Rusty does what he does best: pawns a bunch of valuable scientific artifacts and shanghais students from the local university to act as his workforce.
Surprisingly enough, this plan goes pretty well at first, and the bulk of the episode’s plot is dedicated to following the building of the shield, and how it affects the denizens of the Venture Compound. Rusty adapts nicely to his new role as foreman, reserving a whole group of workers to act as his personal servants; Dean, meanwhile, has fallen for a student worker named Thalia, and his relatively normal (at least by Venture standards) courtship of the woman shows just how much Dean has matured over the few months this episode covers. But despite this progress, these are still the Ventures we’re talking about, and things, as they are wont to do, go horribly wrong. Rusty, being Rusty, never bothered to learn the effects of testing super-magnetized ionic plasma; as it turns out, said plasma rapidly mutates anything that comes into contact with it, which in this case means the students, who soon set up their own mutant society on the compound, complete with castes, a political system, and their own religion, one that instructs them to mutate the entire planet. Not to give too much away, but their plans are eventually thwarted with the appropriate lack of dignity.
The humor is as sharp as ever [but] the premiere doesn’t lose sight of the real emotional core that raises Venture above most comedies.All in all, “What Color Is Your Cleansuit” was well worth the wait. The humor is as sharp as ever, and much like the also recently returned Arrested Development, rewards repeat viewers with a wealth of gags and callbacks that only become clear over multiple viewings. At the same time, the premiere doesn’t lose sight of the real emotional core that raises Venture above most comedies. Dean is finally realizing just how poorly his upbringing has prepared him for the real world, while in a side plot, the Monarch desperately tries to win back Henchman 21, who it turns out was one of the Monarch’s only real friends. There are problems, of course; the admittedly hilarious addition of Augustus St. Cloud, archenemy to Billy Quizboy, seems to come out of nowhere, and feels like a random choice even for a show that’s used to mining its history for new characters and gags. But warts and all, this is still an incredible hour of television, one that holds the promise for what looks to be another great season of one of the best comedies out there.
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